Friday, February 16, 2007

Text Message Novel??

Last month a Finland-based publishing company published a 332 page novel comprised entirely of text messages: Hannu Luntiala's The Last Message.

"I believe that, at the end of the day, a text message may reveal much more about a person than you would initially think," Luntiala recently told the Associated Press.

Despite being completely disgusted by this ludicrously gimmicky idea for a book, I went to work the next day and asked everyone to take out their cell phones and read their messages out loud.

To my suprise, each message did reveal quite a lot, not only about the person receiving the call, but about the sender as well. Some messages were a mish-mash of letters, barely even abbreviations, "R U Mad?", "Gr8", "Fkface!","lvd u" (I didn't even ask the guy what his girlfriend meant by this), some written out every word, "Are you busy tonight? Would you like to meet at Aalto for a drink?" or the more formal, "Hello. How are you? I'm fine." (Serously. A real message!). Others cracked me up, but I learned it was just because I was uneducated of the text lingo or the innerperonal lingo -- "D&D" *apparently* stands for dinner & drinks, and NOT Dungeons & Dragons.

But certainly it was the voyeurism of it all and not the writing that was so entertaining, right? Like reality TV or when you find a journal of someone you don't know and read excitedly for 3 pages then immediately get board with their weird self-indulgent ramblings.

And then one person read her text message, "I wish you'd stay." When I asked her what it meant she said, "I think he meant 'I wish you would HAVE stayed'...because I left early...from the party." She assumed this, even though she never outright asked him.

I left work feeling a little confused. Do text messages really say a lot about people? About modern language? And how about blogs? Websites? How do these change literature? How does this change our personal interactions with one another? What do we gain...or lose?

Big question hurt brain.

All I know is when it comes to gimmicks, I've often found the idea is much more interesting then the end product.

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